Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
While the first half of the season has not gone the way that many Tigers fans had hoped, the reality is that the division is very winnable, and filling a couple of key holes could make a big difference. But, to fill those holes, the Tigers are going to have to go give up something of value, and with Jacob Turner still likely needed to start again in Detroit this season, and Nick Castellanos off-limits, Rob Brantly becomes the most discussed prospect that could be moved in a deal that would return the Tigers a quality player. The challenge of course is that the Tigers starting catcher, Alex Avila, is already showing serious durability issues, their primary backup, Gerald Laird, isn't a long term solution, and other backstop Bryan Holaday profiles more as a backup. Brantly on the other hand continues to raise his stock and could be ready to start in 2013, or at least share time with Alex Avila, in an effort to keep his knees healthy. But is that a luxury the Tigers can afford? It's a trade off between being ready to win this year against trying to win next year and beyond, and while everyone has discussed how the Tigers are trying to win now, the reality is that winning a World Series might be an unrealistic objective this year, and the Tigers would be better off positioning themselves for a run in 2013. I'm not saying it's time to throw in the towel, but at three games under .500 approaching the midway point of the season, it's coming close to time to accept that this is a flawed team that isn't World Series caliber. Is pillaging the farm system yet again worth it? I'm not sure it is.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
Rob Brantly is a very nice prospect. He has had a breakout season and has raised his status on a national level. He looks like a viable big league option with the ceiling of a solid starter on any club and he at least profiles as a second division starter. That said, the Tigers -- namely owner Mike Illitch -- are looking to win now. If Brantly's stock has risen enough to draw interest from other teams at the trade deadline, then the Tigers have to consider including him in deals to improve the club right now. Though there is reason to be concerned over Alex Avila's long term durability, Rob Brantly isn't the caliber of prospect that you refuse to trade just because your incumbent backstop may not hold up. The Tigers have managed to build some solid depth behind the plate with Brantly, James McCann, Curt Casali and even Bryan Holaday as a potential backup, and they should be willing to deal from depth to improve the club in the short term.
Chris Vannini, Senior Staff Writer
The Tigers have made catcher a position of importance in recent drafts, and the decision may prove to be the right one. Alex Avila's recent knee issues are another example of how much of a physical toll catching takes on a player. It's what made Pudge Rodriguez's career so incredible. Now, I don't know if Avila is going to have long-term issues with his knees, but that will have to play out. Good catching prospects, especially left-handed hitters like Avila and Brantly, are hard to come by. If the club believes James McCann, Curt Casali or others are on the right track as prospects, trading Brantly for an impact player in Detroit could be worth it. But the farm system is so dry, that the option of gutting what is left seems to becoming an unfortunately real possibility.
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